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No. 1 seed Cass Lake-Bena opens section boys basketball play with victory

Cass Lake-Bena's Dakotah Brunelle drew a foul on Clearbrook-Gonvick's Cody Nelson on this drive to the basket during Thursday's Section 8A tournament. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Cass Lake-Bena lived up to its top billing in the East Sub-Section 8A boys basketball tournament Thursday as the Panthers advanced to Saturday's sub-section semifinals with an 87-64 victory over Clearbrook-Gonvick at the BSU gym.

In Thursday's late game at BSU Red Lake County stopped Blackduck 67-52. Thursday's quarterfinal results at Bemidji High School found No. 6 Kelliher-Northome upsetting No. 3 Mahnomen 63-60 and No. 2 Fosston downing No. 7 Win-E-Mac 62-46.

CL-B (21-6) will face No. 4 RLC 1 p.m. Saturday at Thief River Falls in the sub-section semifinals. K-N will meet Fosston in the second semifinal at 2:45 p.m. and Saturday's winners will square off Tuesday in the sub-section title game.

The East and West sub-section champions will battle March 18 for a state tournament berth.

Cass Lake-Bena used its speed and firepower to down the Bears Thursday. The full-court press took its toll on C-G and provided quick points whenever the Panthers were in need of a spark.

The No. 1 seed also controlled the boards, especially Jake Ellis who overpowered the smaller Bears on way to a 27-point effort.

A.J. Johnson added 15 points while Chad Wittner had 12 and Caleb Fisher 10.

"I was expecting a big game from Jake," said CL-B coach Brian Michaelson who is completing his first year on the bench. "When Jake is mentally strong he can be very tough to defend."

Cass Lake-Bena's offense also was sparked by the guard play of Chad Wittner as the senior set up his teammates with precision passes.

"Chad is the only player on this team who had more than five or six minutes a game last year so we're still figuring out how to play at this level," Michaelson said. "This was a good tournament opener. We were hungry after losing to Minnesota Transitions (109-73) last week and we came to the tournament ready to play."

Joey Schuh scored 19 points to power K-N (12-14) to its upset win. Keith Shaunessy and Gregory Davison added 13 for the Mustangs who led 35-31 at intermission.

Fosston led 29-25 at the break and, with the help of nine free throws by Kyle Arneson in the second half, expanded that margin in the final 18 minutes.

Arneson finished with 21 points while Mark Goss and Garrett Carlin each scored 10.

Michael Dexter scored 11 points for Blackduck in the loss to RLC. The winners were paced by Scott Herberg who scored 25.

In Section 8-2A action Thursday Bagley improved to 26-2 after defeating Red Lake 87-67 in the sub-section quarterfinals.

Kris Skersick had 25 points and 14 rebounds while Nick Neeland dished eight assists and Austin Bellefy seven.

Kaine Lundmark came off the bench to contribute 10 points and 10 rebounds and Patrick Thompson scored 16 points.

Bagley, the top seed, will host No. 4 East Grand Forks at 7 p.m. Saturday in the sub-section semifinals.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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